Everything you need to know about WIDU!

 

What is WIDU?

According to World Bank estimates, members of the African diaspora in Germany transfer €1.2 billion annually to their countries of origin to support family and friends. It is clear that there lies great potential for the economic development of the individual countries. However, the money is rarely used for entrepreneurial investments. This is where WIDU comes into play. The project redirects existing remittances into sustainable investments for start-ups and small businesses. The central tool for the project is the online platform WIDU. WIDU enables transparent and efficient management of the projects for all participants. In addition to financial support from the diaspora, sponsored entrepreneurs receive free coaching measures and a financial contribution from WIDU. The goal is the creation of new jobs, increased income and better economic perspectives for Ghana and Cameroon.
The WIDU Platform is an initiative of the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), implemented by the Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ).

Who is WIDU aimed at?

WIDU was developed for those who want to improve the economic situation in Africa sustainably. Specifically, the initiative is aimed at private individuals from the Ghanaian or Cameroonian diaspora in Germany who regularly transfer money to their home countries. With WIDU they gain insight into the funded project and its implementation from the beginning until the end. This allows diaspora donors to make sure that their transfer is deployed wisely. Entrepreneurs from Ghana and Cameroon benefit equally from WIDU as they can invest in the sustainability of their businesses. The prerequisite for participation in the promotion programme is that the project partners already know and trust each other. It is also important that both parties – donors and entrepreneurs – are prepared to invest the same amount of money in the project. After successful coaching and proof of private investment on the platform, WIDU will match the joint contribution of the diaspora and the entrepreneur with a grant.

How does WIDU work?

To submit a project application, the diaspora representative and the company or company founder have to register on the platform and connect as project partners. To this end, simply enter the email address of the entrepreneur from Cameroon or Ghana who you would like to support financially in starting or developing a company. WIDU will send the company founders or entrepreneurs an invitation with a confirmation link. When both have registered, the personal profiles and joint project can be set up on the platform.     
These user profiles must be completed in full before an application for the WIDU subsidy can be submitted. In addition to personal details and information about your motivation, the user profiles include a process for verifying your identity. Please have your identity card or passport to hand for this step.

A WIDU project is divided into three phases:

  1. Creating the profiles and project
  2. Evidence of the use of funds for investment purposes and subsidy application
  3. Subsidy payment

A dashboard on the platform allows you to view project progress at any time and find out what activities are required as the next step.       
After creating the personal profiles, the project description is set up on the platform. Supporters indicate the amount of funding they would like to provide for project implementation. Company founders and entrepreneurs describe the project to be implemented in Cameroon or Ghana with the funding and indicate how much money they are contributing to the project.
As soon as the project description has been completed, the WIDU teams can apply online for the second step. Your project will be checked against the WIDU terms and conditions of participation and accepted or rejected.
If your project does not fully comply with the terms and conditions of participation, you will be informed of such and asked to check any details. Projects that grossly violate the terms and conditions of participation will be deactivated.
In the second phase, the supporter transfers money to the entrepreneur in Africa. The transfer receipt must be uploaded as evidence.  
An institution will serve as a mentor to support company founders or entrepreneurs.
After this, the entrepreneur’s use of the funding must be documented on their personal WIDU account. This documentation comprises an exact description and evidence of expenditure. Depending on your project, this step can take up to three months.
The application for the subsidy can be submitted as soon as all expenditure has been documented. After assessing project progress and the completeness of information in accordance with the terms and conditions of participation, the WIDU subsidy is awarded or refused. Teams whose projects do not fully comply with the terms and conditions of participation will be informed of such and asked to check any details. Projects that grossly violate the terms and conditions of participation will be deactivated. A few successful projects will be selected for presentation to the general public on WIDU’s website. If documentation is successful, the subsidy will be granted and the transfer receipt uploaded to the platform for the information of the entrepreneur. Entrepreneurs confirm receipt of the payment and again document the use of the subsidy by recording expenditure.

Who is supported and subsidised?

Start-ups and small companies from various sectors can be supported, e.g. textiles, tailoring, car mechanics, baking, hairdressing, etc. These are funded by members of the African diaspora in Germany and, if participation in mentoring services is successful, subsidised by GIZ via the platform and supported on the ground by various partners. Support is currently given to start-ups and companies in Cameroon and Ghana.

How many companies are subsidised?

Depending on the number of project applications, the success of ongoing projects and the amount of assistance they require, new projects are accepted on a continuous basis. Since the platform would also like to ensure mentoring of start-ups and companies on the ground, there may be delays in the application process.

Does the subsidy need to be paid back?

The subsidies and mentoring/coaching services help start-ups and small companies to successfully develop their business. These do not have to be paid back if the funds are used for investment purposes (see terms and conditions). If, however, the resources are misused, repayment of the subsidy will be requested and legal action will be taken.

Who supports African entrepreneurs on the ground?

Selected institutions in Cameroon and Ghana support the start-ups and small companies and, as mentors and coaches, strengthen entrepreneurial skills and provide support in developing business plans or registering companies, for example.

What conditions does WIDU set for the subsidy?

Approval for phase 2 can be granted as soon as a project application is submitted. In phase 2, both members of the project team must provide evidence of the transfer of funding to Africa and the total investment in Africa. In this step, the use of the resources must be documented by means of invoices and photos. You must also provide evidence of your identity using identity documents.
Another requirement for project support is the company founders’ or entrepreneurs’ successful participation in coaching and mentoring measures offered via the platform.
In order to prevent support and subsidies from being misused, the names of participating persons will be cross-referenced with the sanction lists of the EU and other countries. Projects will be excluded from WIDU if one of the participants is included in these lists.

How is my data protected?

WIDU complies with the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (EU GDPR).
The personal data of the participants, with the exception of their profile picture and nickname, will only be published with consent. The stakeholders involved in projects can view certain information from personal and project profiles.
GIZ can view and process all data and, where necessary, get in touch with all participating stakeholders, or be represented by network partners. Selected project information is published, but does not include information about financial volume.
Any information and files sent are stored on a specially secured server in Germany and are only used for internal and anonymised evaluation after the project has come to an end.

How is the subsidy issued?

Supporters and companies can choose any payment channel for private transfers. Assistance and information with regard to options and the cost of the various payment methods are provided via the platform as well as via the BMZ-financed comparison site www.geldtransfair.de. Evidence of private transfers, e.g. an account statement, is to be uploaded to the platform in digital form. Informal channels for remittances or cash payments will not be accepted. The subsidy is paid after the transfer has been made and the project has commenced. The subsidy is paid directly to an account held by the company in Cameroon/Ghana. The funding will not be paid via the platform.

Can a project be subsidised multiple times?

A start-up or small company can be supported up to three times. Further subsidisation requires previous projects to have been fully processed, including seamless documentation of all expenses.

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